Highlands East council looks at short-term rental bylaw

By Angelica Ingram

Published Aug. 7 2018

The following are brief reports of items discussed at the Aug. 1 regular meeting of Highlands East council.

A draft short-term accommodations licensing bylaw is being put forth by council to be passed following a public meeting to change the comprehensive zoning bylaw in the planning act.

Council is looking at implementing fees and penalties in a new bylaw that would strictly deal with short-term rentals.

CAO/treasurer Shannon Hunter stressed that the bylaw was not intended to discourage people from renting out their residence.

“No one wants to stop short-term accommodations” she said. “We just want to regulate it.”

According to her report to council “the Municipality of Highlands East created a short-term accommodation task group with the goal and objectives to investigate a solution to address concerns associated with short-term accommodation without eliminating the practices of cottage rentals exercised in cottage country. It is recognized that short-term accommodation is vital to our economic prosperity however regulations need to be implemented to address many issues including but not limited to zoning infractions noise parking building deficiencies health and safety and environmental.”

Licensing will allow the municipality to implement standards for all short-term accommodations including that they be properly zoned follow noise bylaws address building concerns limit accommodations to number of bedrooms and ensure septic is adequate said Hunter in her report.

“Some of the highlights of the bylaw include: short-term accommodations is a rental less than 28 days licence is for three years a licence cost is $300 maximum occupancy shall be two persons per bedroom plus an additional two licence available for one building per property waterfront properties shall be limited to one (1) per owner per lake.”

Hunter said she is recommending that the fees do not come into effect until June 1 2019 allowing people time to adjust to the new rules.

One of the new regulations in the draft bylaw is the limitation of allowing only one property owner to rent out one dwelling on one lake.

Councillor Cam McKenzie questioned whether or not the municipality could be legally challenged on the rule about one property per owner per lake.

Hunter said the municipality could be challenged on any of their bylaws.

A stakeholder committee has been involved with creating the draft bylaw.

A public meeting is being planned for Wednesday Aug. 29 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Lloyd Watson Centre.

A report from bylaw enforcement officer Wayne Galloway brought to council’s attention the need for action on docks being erected in the municipality.

According to Galloway “complaints have been received that subjects have erected a dock(s) along the shoreline road allowance that is owned by the municipality and they are using it as a personal dock and not allowing others to use it” he said in a report to council. “The dock(s) are situated within the shoreline road allowance and do not appear to have either a land use agreement or any deeded access to the water body in place. Although this is not a unique situation within Highlands East it normally comes to light as the result of a neighbour dispute.”

Galloway said that when the municipality becomes aware of an illegally placed dock they assume liability for the dock and its use.

There are ways to fix the issue he said including having the owner of the dock enter into an agreement with the municipality. Other options include having the owner remove the dock or the municipality taking over ownership of the dock.

Hunter said she believed a land use agreement was the way to go as it reduced the liability factor for the municipality.

Mayor Dave Burton asked if the dock then would still be public. Hunter said it would not be they would be using it for their own personal use.

Deputy Mayor Suzanne Partridge said she was not in favour of these docks becoming property of the owner as that could limit public access points into the lake.

“Some of these docks are built in places where it’s the only accessible area to get down to the lake” she said.

Council passed a resolution to seek legal advice on the matter.

Local organization Places for People is looking to create another dwelling in Cardiff.

A request from the housing and grants committee was made to council seeking a donation in support of the second dwelling. According to the committee the organization is currently fundraising for the project.

Council approved a $1000 donation which will come from the general municipal budget.

A formal request was made by the environment committee asking the municipality to install surveillance cameras at the landfill sites.

“The committee’s discussion spoke to the scavenging that takes place within the landfill and waste that gets left outside of the landfill sites” it said in clerk Robyn Roger’s report to council. “The committee would like it if the various options regarding surveillance equipment be investigated to see what the most efficient and feasible equipment is as an option for installing at the landfill sites.”

A small parkette complete with an eating area might be developed in Cardiff near the dragonfly and pinery area of the village.

Council approved investigating the project which was recommended by the recreation and culture advisory committee.

“At the June 13 meeting the committee discussed that they would like to see a small park area developed by the dragonfly and municipal office in Cardiff to address main street revitalization” said deputy CAO/treasurer  Brittany McCaw in her report to council. “At the July 11th meeting the park area was discussed again and a formal recommendation was put forth for council discussion.”

According to McCaw’s report “staff would need to investigate if adequate parking is possible the purchase of three picnic tables a portable toilet rental and a bear proof garbage bin purchase. If approved money for the project are to be funded through the beautification fund of the 2018 budget.”

Some of the buildings in Wilberforce are getting improvements with property supervisor Jim Alden telling council an elevator has now been installed in the Wilberforce Curling Club.

The elevator has passed its inspection and is up and running said Alden.

Air conditioning has now been installed in the Lloyd Watson Centre.

Burton asked Alden if he could investigate the possibility of the LWC becoming a cooling station in situations of extreme heat.